Islamist driven from another town

AP/NY Times:

Attacking at dawn, Ethiopian and Somali government troops on Wednesday drove Islamic fighters out of the last major town on the road to the Islamist-held capital.

Former warlord Mohammed Dheere, who ruled Jowhar before it was captured by the Council of Islamic Courts in June, led the Somali government troops as they drove into the city, said resident Abshir Ali Gabre.

Government spokesman Abdirahman Dinari confirmed the capture of Jowhar and said his troops were heading toward Balad, an agricultural village about 18 miles from Mogadishu. Smaller than Jowhar, it is the last town before the capital.

A resident there, Mohammed Abdi Hassan, told The Associated Press by telephone that the Islamists have left the city and that no one was in control.


''Our snakes of defense were let loose, now they are ready to bite the enemy everywhere in Somalia,'' said Sheik Mohamoud Ibrahim Suley. He did not elaborate, but some Islamic leaders have threatened a guerrilla war including suicide bombings in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's capital.

Hundreds of people had fled Jowhar, anticipating major fighting, but others seemed resigned to it after suffering from drought and flooding over the last two years.

''We do not know where to escape, we are already suffering from floods, hunger and disease,'' Abdale Haji Ali said from Jowhar. ''We are awaiting death.''

The Islamist are finally admitting that they are terrorist and will attempt a terror campaign. Their quick abandonment of the towns in route to Mogadishu suggest they are trying to husband enough survivors to launch such a campaign, in the capital and then trike out from there.


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